Hi I'm Michelle Brideau. I have posted videos from my first bike tour, cycling across Canada, to cycling and commuting in and around London. I want to share my experiences and what I’ve learned so others can get out on their bikes and enjoy the ride too.
As many of you know I was chosen as a Rutland Cycling Ambassador last spring and being an ambassador has given me the chance to get to know the company a lot better. When it came time to swap the Specialized Ruby bike for my second test bike from Rutland, I decided to make the journey to the flagship store, Whitwell to see Rutland Cycling in person and meet the team in real life who I’d been messaging for months.
When I went to collect my Specialized Diverge it was on an evening Rutland was having one of their maintenance courses running so I stayed around to see what they were about. They have a series of 4 maintenance courses covering things from puncture repair to wheel truing.
I was there for the first of the series, which included things such as how to do an M check of your bike, how to fix a puncture and know which innertube you should buy. The great thing about the course is the instructor gives a talk and then it’s hands-on time so you can try yourself, the best way to learn. Rutland has bikes on hand that you can practice on or you can use your own bike if you like.
The night I attended there was a good mix of people, men and women of a variety of ages, and the instructor made sure everyone was comfortable and encouraged us to ask questions. I was impressed. I was also impressed with the language that was used, it was very clear as to what he was talking about because he didn’t use jargon and he explained when there were other names used for the same thing (like presta valve aka French Valve).
The course has a fee of £5 which is less than the value of the gift you receive on the night, an item related to what that evening covers. The night I was there it was a cassette cleaner and chain lube. This makes the course truly great value. If you live near a Rutland Cycling store you’re very lucky, be sure to make the most of it and the chance to learn how to repair your own bike, you never know when it might come in handy. When I started cycling in London I never got around to taking a course because they were around £50-90 a course.
Rutland Cycling is a growing company with 11 bike shops and they are currently growing and expanding at a time other bike shops in the UK seem to be struggling, like Evans Cycles who were in the news recently regarding their financial troubles. If Rutland continues to offer value to their local cycling community in ways such as offering maintenance courses, and leading local rides and supporting women riding initiatives as they have been they’ll have loyal customers for a very long time and continue to grow. If only they had a location near me so I could take the other classes!
Kit and Ace is a Canadian company who caught my eye when I saw this photo on Twitter
Cycling portrayed as normal, including a smartly dressed women! I then learned that Kit and Ace were Canadian (like me) and I became even more curious. I found out they’re known for their technical cashmere, an easy wearing easy to care for cashmere. The Kit and Ace range is functional, work-appropriate and it allows for movement using four-way stretch. Smart, comfortable and functional it sounded like a winning combination.
I get cold easily so cashmere is one of my favourite materials I love the softness of it and the warmth to weight ratio. On my ride across Canada I took my very old (elbows worn through) cardigan to keep me warm sleeping. Sadly, over the years I’ve lost of few of my beloved cashmere sweaters to accidental washings in washing machines, an expensive mistake. Being able to have clothes with cashmere that’s machine washable would be a true luxury.
I understand from my Canadian friends that Kit and Ace have been known for their eye-watering prices but they seem to have adjusted them and while not cheap the clothes are on par to what you might pay for something from Lululemon. I’ve been moving towards having fewer things, but making sure I love the things I have and that they work on and off the bike. So I don’t mind spending a bit more to get something that meet that criteria. On my trip to Canada last October I thought I’d try a couple things, because although they do ship internationally but I wanted to avoid having to deal with returns and custom fees.
side zip pocket – Navigator trousers
Upon my arrival in Canada, I had a parcel waiting at Dad’s with a bike ready autumnal outfit. Most of their clothes are cycling friendly but the Navigator trousers have few extra features that help even more, they have some water repellency and are quick drying should you get caught in the rain. I personally really like all the pockets, including a hidden one that fits a phone and a zipped one next to the normal side pocket. The only thing that would improve these pants for me is a little extra space in the thigh (hello cycling muscles) or if they were skinny trousers (my preferred style) rather than straight leg.
The sweater, so comfy so soft. It has a brushed inside which I discovered makes for a great cycling top because it provides wind protection without having to put on your jacket, it’s pretty close to the Roubaix fabric you find in cycling jerseys. Did I mention how soft it is!?
I’m always keen to support a company promoting cycling as a normal part of life. Not all their clothes are cut to my style preference but the pieces I do like I really like. Their technical cashmere is a great way to get more cashmere into my life without the risk of shrinking something really expensive. I’ve already bought another a dress in the Boxing Day sale and I’ll be keeping an eye out for a skinny version of the trousers for my visit to Vancouver in September when I can visit a shop in person.
My time in London was coming to an end soon so I decided to take a break from packing and ride to Brighton. When I got there I was soon reminded how crazy Brighton can be on a hot summers day. This ride was also one of the longer rides I’ve done on the Specialized Ruby Expert.
Watch and see how what my first impressions of the Specialized Ruby Expert are.
Cycling to Brighton & 1st Impressions of the Specialized Ruby Expert - YouTube
What is it? I’m asked every time I’m out and about on the Copenhagen Wheel. It’s a wheel that turns a normal bike into an e-bike and works on just about any bike with rim breaks. I’ve been having a lot of fun riding around on it and getting to know more about e-bikes.
Watch and see how it works.
My Road Bike is Now an E-bike! | Copenhagen Wheel - YouTube
I’ve been riding the Copenhagen Wheel for just over a month and thought I would share with you my thoughts on e-bikes (a video about the wheel is coming soon). Until you’ve ridden one it’s really hard to appreciate them and all the possibilities they offer. If you ever get the chance to give one a try do take it and give it a go, you’ll probably be surprised and you won’t be able to help smiling, they are a lot of fun.
On this ride I take you with me as I cycle around Richmond Park and share with you my thoughts on e-bikes.
Are E-bikes Cheating? | Ride With Me July - YouTube
The Brompton folding bike was invented in West London and is still built in West London today in their new factory. When Brompton asked if I would like to visit their factory, being the curious person I am I had to say yes. I was pretty impressed to see how much of the bike is actually made at the factory and how many custom parts go into making this bike. Brompton continually test and look for ways to improve their bike. This year they have produced their first e-bike version of the Brompton which I got the chance to take for a quick spin as the grand finale of my tour.
So it was finally time, all the prep and training done past lunch had been had, we were off to the start for our 22:40 start time. Watch part 2 to see how it all went, see me in all my sleep deprived glory and find out if the ride is as well organised as the registration process.
Vätternrundan 2018 The Ride - Part 2 - YouTube
If you missed Part 1 you can see it here:
Vätternrundan 2018 Part 1 - To The Start - YouTube
I read about the Vätternrundan about a year ago, I’m not big on sportifs but there was something about this one, a 300km cycle around a lake in Sweden, that captured my imagination. So I read up on how to get a spot, marked my calendar with a reminder of the registration date and come the end of October Nathan and I had a spot in the Vätternrundan (which is Vättern for the lake and rundan for around, you ride around Lake Vättern).
This video is part 1 of my experience, getting there and getting ready. Prior to this many of an hour was spent in the saddle training and getting our bodies used to spending many hours in the saddle. We estimated it would take about 12 hours riding time 15 hours total.
The Vätternrundan on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/1642487823
Info about the ride: http://vatternrundan.se/sv/
Vätternrundan 2018 Part 1 - To The Start - YouTube
It’s Bike Week in the UK this week, so I thought I would share with you 5 of the reasons why I cycle commute to inspire you to give it a try too.
One of the great things about being part of #TeamRutland is the opportunity to get to try new things. So when I was asked if I would be interested in having a Brompton Ultralight for a week I couldn’t say no, I’d recently rented one for a weekend and really enjoyed (you can watch that video here). This time I would be switching out my Brodie bike that I normally commute on for the Brompton.
Watch the video to see my Brompton experience and find out 5 of the reasons why I cycle to work.
My Week With a Brompton & 5 Reasons to Commute by Bike | #TeamRutland sponsored - YouTube